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Knox Football: Fire travel to Ripon on Saturday

“What’s been our challenge so far this season is playing consistent,” Tomeo said.

GALESBURG — Knox College football coach Damon Tomeo has seen his team struggle with one thing in its first two affairs.

“What’s been our challenge so far this season is playing consistent,” Tomeo said Monday afternoon. “We struggled in Game 1 being consistent and in Game 2 at the beginning of the fourth quarter we got inconsistent and it cost us the game.”

The Prairie Fire (0-2) are coming off a bye week and it couldn’t have come at a better moment. Knox needed the extra time to prepare for its next foe, Ripon, who is also coming off a bye. The Fire will clash with the Red Hawks (1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ingalls Field in Ripon, Wisconsin.

Knox beat Ripon 13-6 at the Knosher Bowl last season. It was the first win against the Red Hawks since 1987. The series dates back to 1920 with Knox holding a 6-41 overall mark against Ripon.

“They have a triple option offense and a unique 3-3 stack defense that we don’t often see in our conference,” Tomeo said of the Red Hawks. “We had an extra week to prepare and it will be helpful for us. We’ve been able to work through the different play sets and formations that they’re going to present on Saturday.

“The triple option is always hard in one week to prepare for but if you have two weeks you are able to put a plan out there that you are able to feel pretty decent about.”

Ripon has 15 returning starters — 10 on offense. Sophomore quarterback Julian Patton dons No. 8 and he powers the Red Hawks.

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In 2017, Patton had 846 rushing yards on 183 carries and 13 touchdowns. He completed 42 percent of his passes last season to lead the team with 537 yards and nine touchdowns with an efficiency rating of 110.8.

This season, Patton has completed 9 of 22 passes for 139 yards and three TDs and has 29 rushes for 158 yards and a touchdown.

“The quarterback is the key cog,” Tomeo said of Patton. “He’s a good player who played some against us as a freshman. He’s very athletic and was learning the offense last year so that kind of hindered them. It’s hard as a freshman to play in that offense. I think he’s got it well under control now and he will be a good challenge for us.

“If he gets going it could be pretty rough.”

Knox has produced 717 yards on offense and 139 have come via its ground attack. Most of the rushing yards are from junior running back Braeden Westfall, who has 30 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have to continue to find a way to run the football more consistently and create some explosive plays in the run game,” Tomeo said.

The Fire only have two turnovers — a fumble and an interception — and Tomeo is proud of that.

“We’ve done a good job with ball control,” he said. “We’re not turning the ball over and that’s always a big factor.”

Knox sophomore quarterback Jacob Amaro threw the pick. He’s completed 43 of 87 attempts for 578 yards and three TDs in his first season as the starter.

Sophomore wideout Hunter Lee has 10 receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown.

Matthew Wheaton: (309) 343-7181, ext. 204; [email protected]; @matthewlwheaton